Ubuntu is the recommended operating system for all our programming courses. The reason is that installation of software libraries is way easier in Ubuntu than Windows or Mac OS X. In addition, Ubuntu has grown to become a very easy-to-use operating system for everyday use as well.
Installing on a virtual machine on Windows or Mac
Installing Ubuntu on a virtual machine (VirtualBox) is the safest way to get Ubuntu. It will not perform as fast as a full installation, but doesn’t alter your system in any way, and allows you to run Ubuntu just like it was any other application in Windows or Mac OS X.
The following guide is very detailed and takes you step-by-step, with screenshots, through the installation process of the virtual machine software, VirtualBox, and Ubuntu:
In short, you need to install VirtualBox and Ubuntu
Ubuntu as your main OS or alongside Windows or Mac OS X
If you wish to use Ubuntu as your main operating system, you just need to download Ubuntu and follow their instructions on how to move it onto a USB thumb drive or burn it onto a CD. After doing so, you boot your computer with the CD or USB thumb drive inserted and follow the installation procedure.
Along the process of installing, you will be prompted about whether you want to install Ubuntu instead of your original operating system or side-by-side in a dual-boot mode.
There also is a second option available to you if you want to install Ubuntu on a Windows machine and that is Wubi. Wubi is a Windows installer that installs Ubuntu as a virtual disk on your windows partition, giving you a dual boot mode. This is not a “true” installation and there are certain things that will not work, but for the most you will never experience any differences between a regular Ubuntu installation and a Wubi installation.
To install Ubuntu this way you download the .exe file in Windows, run it and follow the instructions. The next time you start your computer you will have the option to choose between starting in Windows or Ubuntu. Note that Wubi does not yet work for windows 8.